On April 3, 2020 I sent a letter over to the Mayor of Holyoke Alex Morse asking him to fully equip the Holyoke D.P.W with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) so that the members can do their job in a safely manner.
I also asked for a $2.00 more per hour for essential community service compensation to all of our members that have been outside in the public since day one risking their health and safety and taking the chance of spreading the virus to their families.
Here is the response I got back from the City for the things I requested for our members at the Holyoke D.P.W.
Request 1: Glasses or Goggles for Eye Protection
City Response: We delivered 50 sets of Goggles on Friday to augment existing DPW supply of protective eyewear
Request 2: Masks to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19
City Response: Each worker has been provided with a reusable mask. We have also provided supplemental disposable masks and are continuously working on procuring additional masks to ensure a consistent supply. I would be happy to provide an update on this request. We are following OSHA guidance on this and will be supplying all staff with the information from OSHA and CDC on proper use of PPE. In addition to mask provision, we have made changes to our staffing schedule that drastically cut exposure. (See request 5)
Request 3: Small and Medium Gloves
City Response: We have been notified that no workers are requesting small gloves, but have provided medium gloves in addition to Large and XL. If any member requests small gloves, they will be made available in addition to all other sizes
Request 4: Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes to clean their trucks
City Response: We have contracted with local manufacturers and will be replenishing hand sanitizer and cleaning solution this week. It is our understanding that DPW currently has both, but is indeed running low. I will notify you as soon as the stockpile is replenished. As these new manufacturers are local, we expect this supply to be continuous and not an issue going forward.
Request 5: $2 an Hour pay increase
City Response: Our primary concern is the health and safety of our DPW workers. Recognizing the enhanced risk associated with COVID-19 we have changed our staffing policies for DPW laborers. Beginning last week, workers were divided into two shifts. Shift A is on for the week, while Shift B is asked to remain home (but on call), with no impact to their vacation or sick pay. Workers will receive the same pay as if they were mandated to be in every day. In addition to the shift in schedules, changes have been made to ensure proper social distancing can be followed at all times through procedures that keep workers from sharing vehicle cabs.